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RIAI Town Centre Living Competition

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By Daniel Leahy – 27th June 2023

Corstorphine & Wright’s response to The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Town Centre Living competition for Sligo offered a new approach to building communities in Ireland. It was envisioned as a place that residents will be proud to call home and be able to embed into the community.

Our proposal drew inspiration from the industrial location and looked to take advantage of river views, as well as views into the site rather than across neighbouring ones. Care has been taken to ensure that active frontages are prioritised at ground floor level, allowing for both a feeling of safety and for a more vibrant development.

The materials used create a palette which is part of vernacular housing in Ireland. Brick, timber, concrete is used throughout the site to give the development a sense of continuity and allow for future developments elsewhere to take precedent from and create a sense of place and belonging.

It was a valuable learning experience for the design team to respond to this competition and work within different parameters.

Design competitions like this are a refreshing approach to procurement for public housing in Ireland, giving practices of all sizes the opportunity to explore different design methodologies and have the freedom to develop creative responses.

Read on for a excerpt from the report proposal

Our design approach has considered the context of the housing crisis in Ireland and offers a new approach to building communities. Town Centre First is an opportunity to look outwards from highly urban areas such as Dublin, Cork and Galway and look inwards at communities & towns that have not been given the opportunity to grow and prosper through the delivery of small interventions within the urban fabric that not only provide essential housing but can become an anchor point, delivering facilities that serve the wider community. We believe our proposal offers new opportunities to local authorities in creating a new typology and approach to housing. The site is seen as a catalyst for similar development in the area, particularly the site to the north. The provision of permeable green space could be extended to the river, creating meaningful public realm. In addition to the public external spaces, each home will have private external amenity in the form of a garden or balcony. There is a resident’s roof garden located on the central block to allow for residents and communal events. This space is programmable and is seen as a key space for the residents to take communal ownership. The provision of the roof garden for residents enhances the overall opportunity for outside space within the development, allowing the ground level open spaces to be accessible to the wider community, giving back to the residents of Sligo.

The Corstorphine & Wright design team included: Daniel Leahy, Tarryn Leeferink, Edward Norton & Tim Sanderson

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